Cross-Cultural Differences in Coping, Connectedness and Psychological Distress among University Students

Main Article Content

Aileen M Pidgeon
Tara S. Bales
Barbara C.Y Lo
Peta Stapleton
Heidi B. Magyar


Globally the high prevalence of psychological distress among university students is concerning. Two factors associated with low psychological distress among university students are adaptive coping strategies and campus connectedness. The current study examines the cross-cultural differences among university students across three countries, Australia, United States of America and Hong Kong in the utilization of academic coping strategies, levels of campus connectedness and psychological distress. Cross-cultural differences were examined using the theory of cultural orientations; individualism and collectivism. Participants consisted of 217 university students. The results indicated no significant differences between the countries on individualism or collectivism or on the reported use of academic coping strategies and levels of campus connectedness. Lower use of avoidance coping and higher levels of campus connectedness predicted significantly lower psychological distress for university students in all countries. The implications of the results are discussed along with limitations and future directions.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Pidgeon, A. M., Bales, T. S., Lo, B. C., Stapleton, P., & Magyar, H. B. (2015). Cross-Cultural Differences in Coping, Connectedness and Psychological Distress among University Students. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 3(2), 114–125.
Author Biographies

Aileen M Pidgeon, Bond University, Australia

School of Psychology

Tara S. Bales, Bond University, Australia

School of Psychology


Anderson, C. A. (1999). Attributional style, depression, and loneliness: A cross-cultural comparison of American and Chinese students. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25,482-499. doi: 10.1177/0146167299025004007

Chang, E. C. (1996). Cultural differences in optimism, pessimism, and coping: Predictors of subsequent adjustment in Asian American and Caucasian American college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 43(1), 113-123. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.43.1.113

Chang, E. C. (2001). A look at the coping strategies and styles of Asian Americans: Similar or different? In C. R. Synder (Ed.), Coping with stress: Effective people and processes (pp. 222-239). New York: Oxford University Press.

Chiou, J. (2010). Horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism among students in the United States, Taiwan, and Argentina. The Journal of Social Psychology, 141, 667-678. doi: 10.1080/00224540109600580

Chun, C., Moos, R. H., Cronkite, R. C. (2006). Culture: A fundamental context for the stress and coping paradigm. In P. T. P. Wong & L. C. J. Wong (Eds), Handbook of Multicultural Perspectives on Stress and Coping. New York, NY: Springer US, (pp 29-53). doi: 10.1007/0-387-26238-5_2

Cozma, I. (2011). How are individualism and collectivism measured? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 13, 11-17.

Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2003). The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS): Normative data and latent structure in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42, 111–121. doi: 10.1348/014466503321903544

Dykstra, P. A. (2009). Older adult loneliness: myths and realities. European Journal of Ageing, 6, 91-100. doi: 10.1007/s10433-009-0110-3

Feng, B. & Burleson, B. R. (2006). Exploring the support seeking process across cultures: Toward an integrated analysis of similarities and differences. In M. P. Orbe, B. J. Allen, & L. A. Flores (Eds.), The same and different: Acknowledging the diversity within and between cultural groups (pp. 243-266). Washington, DC: National Communication Association.

Gall, T. L., Evans, D. R., & Bellerose, S. (2000). Transition to first-year university: Patterns of change in adjustment across life domains and time. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 544-567. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2000.19.4.544

Hunt, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2010). Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46, 3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.08.008

Hwang, A., Francesco, A. M., & Kessler, E. (2003). The relationship between individualism-collectivism, face, and feedback and learning processes in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34, 72-91. doi: 10.1177/0022022102239156

Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., & Taylor, S. E. (2008). Culture and social support, American Psychologist, 63, 518-526. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X[14] Kuo, B. C. (2011). Culture’s Consequences on Coping Theories, Evidences, and Dimensionalities. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42, 1084-1100.

Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress. Appraisal, and Coping. Ney York, NY: Springer Publication Company.

Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1995). Measuring belongingness: The Social Connectedness and the Social Assurance scales. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42, 232. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.42.2.232

Lee, R. M., Keough, K. A., & Sexton, J. D. (2002). Social connectedness, social appraisal, and perceived stress in college women and men. Journal of Counseling & Development, 80, 355-361. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2002.tb00200.x

Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behaviour research and therapy, 33, 335-343. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(94)00075-U

Lykes, V. A., & Kemmelmeier, M. (2013). What predicts loneliness? Cultural difference between individualistic and collectivistic societies in Europe. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 468-490. doi: 10.1177/0022022113509881

Oyserman, D., Coon, H. M., Kemmelmeier, M. (2002). Rethinking individualism and collectivism: Evaluation of theoretical assumptions in meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 3-72. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.1.3

Park, C. L., & Adler, N. E. (2003). Coping styles as a predictor of health and well-being across the first year of medical school. Health Psychology, 22, 627-631. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.22.6.627

Roberts, N. A., & Burleson, M. H. (2013). Processes linking cultural ingroup bonds and mental health: the roles of social connection and emotion regulation. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 52-70. doi: 10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2013.00052

Stallman, H. M. (2010). Psychological distress in university students: A comparison with general population data. Australian Psychologist, 45, 249-257. doi: 10.1080/00050067.2010.482109

Struthers, C. W., Perry, R. P., & Menec, V. H. (2000). An examination of the relationship among academic stress, coping, motivation, and performance in college. Research in Higher Education, 41, 581-592. doi: 10.1023/A:1007094931292

Tang, S. (1999). Cooperation or competition: A comparison of US and Chinese college students. The Journal of psychology, 133, 413-423. doi: 10.1080/00223989909599752

Taylor, S. E., Sherman, D. K., Kim, H. S., Jarcho, J., Takagi, K., & Dunagan, M. S. (2004). Culture and social support: Who seeks it and why? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 354-362. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.87.3.354

Teoh, H. Y., Serang, D. P., & Lim, C. C. (1999). Individualism-collectivism cultural differences affecting perceptions of unethical practices: Some evidence from Australian and Indonesian accounting students. Teaching Business Ethics, 3, 137- 153. doi: 10.1023/A:1009832018849

Triandis, H. C., & Gelfand, M. J. (1998). Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 118-128. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.74.1.118

Triandis, H. C. (1995). Individualism and Collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Wethington, E., & Kessler, R. C. (1986). Perceived support, received support, and adjustment to stressful life events. Journal of Health and Social behavior, 78-89. doi:10.2307/2136504

Wong, J. G., Cheung, E., Chan, K. K., Ma, K. K., & Tang, S. W. (2006). Web‐based survey of depression, anxiety and stress in first‐year tertiary education students in Hong Kong. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40, 777-782. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1614.2006.01883.x[32] Yeh, C. J., Arora, A. K., & Wu, K. A. (2006). A new theoretical model of collectivistic coping. In Handbook of multicultural perspectives on stress and coping (pp. 55-72). Springer: USA. doi: 10.1007/0-387-26238-5_3

Yip, T. (2005). Sources of situational variation in ethnic identity and psychological well-being: A palm pilot study of Chinese American students. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1603-1616. doi: 10.1177/0146167205277094